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Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2
May 16, 2023
Case: 213mm x 185mm x 58mm
Ear cup: 58mm x 48mm
Cable length: 1.5m
Skullcandy is growing up, but not outgrowing joy. The Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 signals a return of the head rattlingly loud low end emphasis known as the Crusher mode. Perhaps more novel is everything else in the active noise canceling (ANC) capable headphones. Complete with a plethora of buttons and memory foam ear padding, we explored the depth and utility of the Crusher ANC 2 to see how it stacks up.
Editor’s note: this is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.
What’s it like to use Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2?
The Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 in True Black outwardly looks more “adult” than some entries in the brand’s lineup, save for its playful orange button. Branding is discreet, even on the zip-up carry case which comes in a textured charcoal twill. Meanwhile, the majority of the headphones are covered in a nearly (but not “true”) black matte texturized plastic. It’s reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro plastic, and although less prone to dust collection, it does pick up fingerprints. You can sort of buff these out, but beware greasy pizza fingers linger. From go, setup and pairing are easy, and the Crusher ANC 2 stays connected.
If the Crusher ANC 2 were a person, they would be that lovable friend who seems a little too old to ride a skateboard, but does it anyway. The irreverence of Skullcandy branding has an appeal, and the Crusher ANC 2 offers fun without garishness. It’s like your lovable skateboarder friend now donning eclectic socks to the office. You can, for example, wear the Crusher ANC 2 to most workplaces without anyone batting an eye. The decent onboard mic means you can also use it for work calls too.
Recently, some premium headphones have ditched articulating hinges, but it’s nice that the Crusher ANC 2 retains swiveling ear cups and hinges to make it more compact for music on the run. A notched plastic headband adjusts easily, and it’s one of the areas that looks a bit cheap compared to the rest of the headphones. However, the cloth covered foam padding on the band distributes the somewhat hefty 332g weight well — I didn’t notice it’s heavier than the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless for instance.
The space for your ears measure about 58mm by 48mm, which ought to accommodate plenty of people. The memory foam ear pads feel quite comfortable, and while they do warm up, it’s no more than average. For reference, I wore the Crusher ANC 2 with sunglasses for over an hour walking in approximately 27 degrees Celsius weather, and yes it was hot, but so was the environment. The good news is that the clamping pressure of the headphones was fine with glasses, but the arms of the glasses do break the isolating seal somewhat.
Incidentally, Crusher ANC 2 don’t seem to turn off to preserve the battery if you accidentally leave them on. The fully juiced battery drained 50% while left idle overnight and with only 90 minutes of actual listening. If there was an option in the app to turn off the headphones after say, 15 minutes of no playback that would be helpful for folks. Speaking of surprising omissions, the Crusher ANC 2 doesn’t have on-ear detection either.
How do you control Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2?
If you want added functionality without memorizing too many gestures, the button-based Crusher ANC 2 may appeal. Conversely, if you really like to customize your experience, you can do a lot of remapping of controls. You can reassign virtually every button with multiple additional functions. For instance, the top right button that increases volume with a tap, can also be assigned to other functions for double presses, triple presses, and one second hold. The selection of commands is pretty long too, albeit focused more on music playback than phone calls. Heck, you can even command your phone to take a picture.
While it’s not terribly difficult to memorize the order of the buttons and which does what, I do find myself having to draw down my thumb over the buttons to ensure I press the correct one on the right side. They feel similar, despite the concave shape of the second one from the top.
The left ear cup controls consist of an orange button for power and pairing. A dial is used for instant access to the Crusher bass presets if you press it to cycle through, or you can scroll to find the sweet spot for you.
|Single press||Hold (1s)||Hold (3s)||Hold (6s)||Scroll|
|Single press||Hold (1s)|
Pairing mode (if already powered on)
Cycle through Crusher bass presets
|Hold (1s)||Hold (3s)||Hold (6s)||Scroll|
Upwards adds bass
Downwards reduces bass
On the right ear you have four different controls, most of which have a single function. This is nice for folks who don’t want to keep track of many press-and-holds or double taps. It seems strange that Skullcandy omits skip track functions. That three of the buttons feel somewhat similar is an unusual choice, however, the commands are very intuitive.
|Single press||Hold (3s)|
Top circular button
Middle circular button
Find with Tile (app needed)
Bottom circular botton
Stay aware/ANC off/ANC on
You might notice that there’s no default button for a voice assistant. Using the Skullcandy IQ app you can easily dedicate a button for your phone’s assistant. Otherwise, you can go hands free and enable voice control in the Skullcandy IQ app, and say things like “Hey Skullcandy Spotify.” You can also use Amazon Alexa or (unusually) iHeartRadio. In order for the hands free function to work, you need to have voice control enabled at all times. The “Hey Skullcandy” function indeed does work, but you have to make sure you remember the exact phrases. For instance, deviating from the script with “Hey Skullcandy open Spotify,” or any verb will result in nothing.
In the Skullcandy IQ app you can choose from English, Korean, German, French, and Spanish for voice control. This is separate from your phone’s voice assistant, and it’s specific to the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 headphones.
Should you use the Skullcandy IQ for the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2?
Yes, so much of the Crusher ANC 2’s utility relies on the Skullcandy IQ app, including updates. Speaking of which, once paired an update appeared immediately, and sincerely, it was one of the quickest updates I’ve experienced. I’m looking at you Bose and Sennheiser, because this Skullcandy update took a painless maximum of 5 minutes.
The Skullcandy IQ interface consists of square tiles that you tap for more details. Rather than menu diving, it’s a simple solution that doesn’t skimp on adjustability. You get a five-band equalizer, which is separate from the Crusher function (even though they both effectively alter EQ). It would be nice if it specified the actual frequencies rather than just descriptions like “Low-mid.”
Like the Nothing Ear 2, the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 has sound personalization, powered by Mimi. You can choose an estimated sound profile based on your birth year, having to do with averaging hearing loss based on age, and not zodiac signs. More effective is the actual hearing test in the app. It gets a bit convoluted when you consider there’s a somewhat vague equalizer, personalized sound profiles (based on age or actual hearing), and the Crusher function — all of which reshape your output. Nevertheless, unlike the year estimate, the personalization does seem to even out the EQ somewhat.
Besides that, you have adjustable ANC and Stay Aware intensity. This feels upgraded from the average on/off for ANC and transparency modes found on budget-oriented headphones. If you happen to lose your stuff often, using the Tile function in the app is nice. Plus, you get Bluetooth multipoint in the app.
Still, you have to opt out (as opposed to opt in) of sharing your data. To do that tap the cog on the upper right, scroll down to select the Quality Program header and toggle off Share analytics.
How does the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 connect?
Skullcandy uses Bluetooth 5.2 and the standard AAC and SBC codecs. It also allows for wired listening with the included 1.5m length cable terminating in a 3.5mm jack. Connection over Bluetooth is stable without any dropouts. For the price it would be nice to see a higher quality codec for Android users, such as aptX.
It also reconnects quickly when you turn on the headphones after the initial pairing. In all, there’s nothing to complain about, because it’s pretty reliable.
The easiest way to pair the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 is from powered off.
- Enable Bluetooth on your device.
- Press and hold the orange button for 6 seconds.
- Select the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 on your device.
You can also repeat this when powered on by pressing the orange button for 1 second instead, but it’s easier to accidentally turn off the headphones instead.
How long does the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 battery last?
The Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 lasted 45 hours and 23 minutes in to our standardized test. This figure applies to the headphones with ANC turned on. While it doesn’t meet the 50 hours Skullcandy advertises, it’s still quite a large battery life, which ought to extend its overall lifespan compared to headphones with shorter battery lives.
To ensure the battery stays charged, make sure you turn off the headphones when not in use, because there’s no power saving mode. Skullcandy includes a USB-A to USB-C charging cable and a headphone jack cable if you find yourself stuck with a dead battery.
Yes, the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 has fast charging, or rapid charging (as Skullcandy labels it). 10 minutes of charging provides a stellar 4 hours of playback.
How well does the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 cancel noise?
While the ear pads on the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 feel comfortable, they do not isolate you from outside sounds particularly well. With ANC turned on, you’ll still hear some of your surroundings. Incidental sounds like clangs in a kitchen or cafe will get dampened. Speech might be difficult to make out. Personally, it’s not enough noise reduction to effectively help with focusing the way that the best noise canceling headphones can.
For the price, we’d expect better ANC, although it is good that the Crusher ANC 2 concentrates on canceling frequencies isolation rarely impacts. Essentially, ANC improves every year, so the yardstick for scoring continually shifts, and the Crusher ANC 2 performance would’ve been deemed fairly good a few years back.
How does the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 sound?
Let’s be clear, the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 frequency response does not follow our headphone preference curve very well, in particular in the low end. However, somebody considering the Crusher ANC 2 probably is less concerned about these deviations than another person looking at, say, studio headphones. As long as you know you’re getting a crushing amount of bass, that’s what it does. It also has quite a lot of variable settings when taking into account the Crusher mode and the five band equalizer. Interestingly, the Crusher mode’s volume tapers off those sub bass frequencies.
With that said, the headphones make some attempt at balancing out their presentation of the frequency spectrum with a notable exaggeration between 5kHz and 7kHz. The result is that some high pitch sounds reach your ears relatively well, while others sound surprisingly quiet.
Lows, lows, lows
Some people think that if they really like bass-heavy music they should look for headphones with loud bass. This is probably a misguided approach. Conversely, there’s an argument that you can take music that is itself deficient in the bass end due to mixing or mastering decisions, and listen to that on a bass boosted set of headphones like the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 in order to compensate and better present the music. Listening to Steppin’ Out by Joe Jackson on the Crusher ANC 2 brings out some of the less audible fast drum machine and sequenced synth bass with the 80% Crusher mode on.
The trade off is that the organ pad disappears as soon as Jackson sings. This isn’t how the song was intended to sound, and on most headphones that follow our preference curve better the vocals, trebly keys, and vibraphone take up most of what you hear. You can still hear those, but the enormous dose of bass from the Crusher mode makes this song sound more modern.
With that said, whatever song you choose to listen to on the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 won’t sound true to how it was mixed. The frankly absurd frequency response of these headphones can amplify some rather unpleasant frequencies in some songs, or produce undesirable effects with songs that are already mixed with louder bass. Putting on No More Lies by Thundercat and Tame Impala with Crusher on 80% triggers a headache. In that respect, the name Crusher is accurate. It’s more tolerable at 20% Crusher, but it’s still too much low end that subsequently overwhelms the chk chk of the hi-hats. The greatly exaggerated bass frequencies don’t quite block out Thundercat’s and Kevin Parker’s vocals, but details don’t quite make it through.
Disabling Crusher mode altogether provides a more conventional listening experience, and still with plenty bass for most people. However, this headphones’ tuning is intent on delivering a large dose of bass at the expense of basically everything else. So, sounds such as crash cymbal hits (at 3:10) meant to punctuate the Thundercat and Tame Impala track are barely audible at all.
Crusher is registered as a trademark. It supplies a drastic bass boost with a peak centred roughly at 45Hz. Adding more or less of the Crusher is basically like adding a ton of additional low end EQ. The catch is that it can only affect frequencies that are actually present in the audio you’re listening to, so if you’re listening to an acoustic guitar with a singer, it will have much less of an effect.
At 80% Crusher, the measured response strays from our headphone preference curve by adding a whopping 20dB of additional output at 50Hz, for example. For the right person that’s great, but it can also cause headaches or early fatigue, which is an achievement of sorts, given that loud low frequencies aren’t commonly associated with causing premature listening fatigue. Luckily, you can turn it off for the times you don’t want to want to rattle your brain, like with a podcast.
One of the benefits of the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 is that you have a lot of listening options. For example, if your battery dies the passive, wired connection still supplies a lot of low end.
There are also presets, and a five-band equalizer, plus the Crusher mode. All of these alter the sound in addition to the sound personalization. Tuning the treble and mids might prove somewhat tricky because by default you have variable volume at frequencies the equalizer can’t control individually.
Can you use the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 for phone calls?
You can definitely use it for calls. The Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2’s four mic system handles noise relatively well. In ideal circumstances the mic doesn’t exaggerate sibilance and sounds pretty decent. However, it can make higher register voices sound a little congested.
The Crusher ANC 2 handles office noise relatively well, with only a little bit of clatter coming through at a greatly reduced volume. With lower pitched voices it filters out street noise quite well, but with higher voices it sometimes decreases the overall volume and tone of the voice in addition to the noise. The same is true when the mics encounter windy conditions.
Overall the mic seems to cooperate best with lower pitched voices, so it’s not a total success story, but maybe you have a deep voice so it’s not a concern. Take a listen below and tell us what you think.
Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 microphone demo (Office conditions):
Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 microphone demo (Street conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2?
Skullcandy gets some things right on the Crusher ANC 2. It feels pretty comfortable, albeit a bit heavy, and works effortlessly. You can connect and remap buttons to your liking and the Skullcandy IQ app performs speedy updates. Plus, the user control over the headphones is rather good. The onboard mics are pretty decent and it filters out environmental sounds well, although the mic’s response curve and noise rejection favors lower voices.
For the price, the Crusher ANC 2 doesn’t cancel noise especially well. It’s fine. While an equalizer and sound personalization are both useful features, adding in the Crusher mode essentially stratifies your control over the sound to different locations with labels that are too vague. This results in a confusing, and ultimately, frustrating EQ situation. With that said, if you’re a bass head, consider the Crusher mode as a challenge, granted, one where the novelty wears off quickly.
Voice control works, but you need to learn the phrases exactly. It can also feel goofy to say “Skullcandy” at your headphones in public, but that’s how many of us felt about saying “Siri” and, well, that still inhibits some folks. It is nice to see that Skullcandy offers a more discreet and visually work friendly set of headphones, without having to compromise on your inner child’s bassy taste. Plus the zip case, battery life, and optional wired listening round out the Crusher ANC 2 as a package.
What should you get instead of the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2?
In some ways the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 is difficult to compare to other headphones thanks to its Crusher mode. Arguably you can crank the lows in an EQ app to roughly get a similar effect.
Assuming you still want a bassy set of headphones, you might like the Monoprice BT-600ANC for its vastly improved noise canceling capabilities and better codecs such as aptX HD. It still sports a good amount of low end, but not so much as to rattle your ears. You don’t get a companion app, however, it’s a bit cheaper than the Skullcandy. Find it for $84.99 at Amazon
Alternately, there’s the Sony WH-XB910N which has eXtra Bass (hence, XB) and it utilizes touch controls rather than dedicated buttons. Your personal preference will determine which is better in regards to controls. The WH-XB910N has better ANC, but it doesn’t isolate high pitched sounds quite as well as the Crusher ANC 2. You gain the LDAC codec too. By default the WH-XB910N similarly boosts low end, although it peaks at a lower frequency than the Crusher. You can explore the Sony Headphones Connect app’s equalizer for the times you want less low end. It sells for $148 at Amazon.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, in addition to the dial on the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 that directly controls how much the Crusher mode is on, you can use the app to turn it off completely too.